Memory walk to create awareness in South Canterbury

Preparing for Saturday's Alzheimers South Canterbury Memory Walk are, from left, Sally Marsh, Barbara Fleming, Helen ...
JOHN BISSET/ STUFF

Preparing for Saturday's Alzheimers South Canterbury Memory Walk are, from left, Sally Marsh, Barbara Fleming, Helen Macdonald, Rosie Knoppel, Clive Callow, Liz Shea , Nicky Johnstone, Lou Billinghurst, Sue Boulton and Robyn Baldwin.

A national annual walk to create awareness for those with Alzheimers disease, got its start in Timaru.

The Alzheimers South Canterbury Memory Walk will be held at the Timaru Botanic Gardens on Saturday, an event the organisation's office manager says the group is "very proud" of.

Barbara Fleming said the memory walk was established in Timaru five years ago and following its success, with about 500 people walking through Stafford St to raise awareness of the disease, the event had been adopted by other branches throughout the country.  

This year 20 groups will take part in the walk.

Fleming said the walk would normally be held on the weekend of September 23, to coincide with World Alzheimers Day, but because of South Canterbury Anniversary Weekend falling at that time, it had been decided to hold it a week earlier this year.

READ MORE: Memory Walk to raise awareness

"We're very proud of the walk and the fact it started here in Timaru," Fleming said.

"It's really hard to say how many were at last year's walk but it would be between 300 and 400."

She said the walk was not a fundraiser, instead it was a chance to raise awareness of the disease and a chance to remember those with Alzheimers and the families and friends affected by it.

"It's an opportunity for people to come out and support one another," she said.

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She said there were an estimated 60,000 people in New Zealand with Alzheimers and by 2050 this number was estimated to reach 170,000.

"When I started with the organisation there were one in four with Alzheimers and now it's two out of three New Zealanders either have the disease or are supporting someone who has it."

She was unsure of the number of people in South Canterbury with the illness.

"We have one of the largest growing populations over 65 in New Zealand though and people are getting diagnosed a lot earlier now too."

The memory walk will begin at 11am, with registrations taken from 10.30am.

The walk will begin at the Queen St side of the gardens, beside the organisation's Park Centre.

"We will supply people with a t-shirt and there will be musical entertainment," she said.

"There will also be a sausage sizzle."

The route will be a loop of the top road of the gardens. She said it was wheelchair-friendly and people could walk at a pace that suited them.

 - The Timaru Herald

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